Much has been written about the growth in mass timber construction, but it’s important to note that this growth is not just happening in Europe and North America. It is truly a global movement, with mass timber structures being built all over the world.
While some have called the increased use of timber a ‘building revolution,’ we prefer to consider it an ‘evolution’ because using plant life to build structures is such a natural step in the progression of our industry.
But evolution takes time. CLT was invented in Europe more than 20 years ago and is only now starting to gain real traction elsewhere.
In order for a new technology to become readily adopted on a global scale, there are several requirements that must be met: there must be a need, it must be cost competitive and it must have proof of concept.
As we look at the reasons designers are increasingly using mass timber construction around the world, several stand out: people are recognizing the need to reduce carbon emissions and they have a strong commitment to building more sustainably using wood. Solid timber buildings can be quickly and easily erected and they are cost competitive, often at a 4 percent savings1 over steel and concrete. Plus, the cost of CLT panels will continue to drop as more manufacturing plants open around the world.
That leaves us with proof of concept. A number of designers and manufacturers are paving the way for the rest of the world to take advantage of mass timber construction technology. It’s an idea whose time has come. Let’s take a look at six projects outside of Europe and North America which help demonstrate that there is a serious global movement taking place in the mass timber space.
Click on the photos below for a link to more project information
Taiwan’s first CLT building; purposefully designed to break the ‘boxlike’ stereotype of CLT construction
Intent was to introduce an environmentally-friendly, low-carbon alternative to this country’s building and construction industry
Challenges included proving durability of CLT building in this hot and humid climate; they raised the first floor above ground to protect from moisture and to prevent termite attack; they also used an innovative rainscreen system to prevent wind-driven water from entering the building assembly
2. NELSON MARLBOROUGH INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, ARTS AND MEDIA
Photo courtesy of Aurecon Group
Material: Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) Location: Nelson, New Zealand Architect:Irving Smith Architects Key Features:
Used Pine LVL for all structural components, including shear panels and post and beam members
Incorporated advanced damage avoidance earthquake design with walls designed to rock on their foundations to absorb seismic energy and preserve the structure
All structural components were grown, milled and manufactured within an 80 km/50 mile ‘Radius of Source’
Constructed as part of a public-private initiative to rebuild the city after an earthquake and tsunami devastated the area in 2010
Reticulated wood naves filter and balance the interior light
Façade features three monumental glass cases designed to invite people to see new book arrivals
4. LIBRARY AT THE DOCK
Photo courtesy of Diana Snape
Material: Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) Location: Melbourne, Australia Architect:Hayball (architect of record) with Clare Design (design architect) Key Features:
Use of lightweight CLT enabled the building to be located right on the waterfront, just 8 meters/26 feet from the edge, therefore minimizing any required remediation to the existing 75-year-old wharf structure
Building’s innovative passive design promotes natural ventilation, daylight and fresh indoor air quality
Structure was erected in 60 days with a crew of just six carpenters